It’s a big relief for NGOs fighting corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Biden administration has reinstated U.S. sanctions against Israeli businessman Dan Gertler, who had received a favor just before the end of Donald Trump’s term.
Back to sanctions
The respite was short-lived for Dan Gertler. The “license” that was granted to him on January 15, 2021, just before the departure of the Trump administration, is no longer valid. In accordance with the first decision adopted in December 2017, the Israeli mining tycoon in the DRC is under sanctions for “opaque and corrupt mining and oil agreements.” Washington accused him of causing the Democratic Republic of Congo to lose “$1.36 billion in tax revenues” during the presidency of Joseph Kabila, with whom he was close.
Clear American support
The dismissal announced by the U.S. State Department spokesman was relayed on the embassy’s website. This measure was probably initiated by the representative of the United States in Kinshasa. Posted in the country since 2018, the very active Mike Hammer has always spoken out in favor of strengthening a partnership “with the Congolese people.” From his first statement in French with words in Lingala (a local language), the U.S. ambassador stressed the importance of economic growth and good governance in the DRC. With the Gertler case, he recalled that corruption is the main concern of the Congolese and reiterated Washington’s support.
This U.S. stance on corruption reinforces the organizations and civil society that are working hard to combat this scourge that is undermining a Democratic Republic of Congo with enormous natural wealth.
The Congo is Not for Sale Collective (CNPAV) and several other NGOs say they are relieved, but note that much remains to be done regarding the awarding of mining contracts in the DRC. Global Witness is calling on the Congolese government to act on Dan Gertler’s alleged role in the misappropriation of public revenues.
In a report published in July 2020, the organization explained how flaws in the Congolese system allowed the controversial businessman to evade U.S. sanctions. These revelations were made possible by Congolese whistleblowers Gradi Koko Lobanga and Navy Malela. The two activists, who are living in exile, were recently sentenced to death in absentia in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being accused by a bank where they worked of document theft.
Dan Gertler has consistently denied all allegations against him, including bribery, embezzlement of government revenues and circumvention of U.S. sanctions. The sulphurous businessman had recently called on the Congolese to “share” and “profit” from the wealth of the copper and cobalt mines.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)